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Curtin University of Technology
Twins and Multiples

Rates of twinning

According to figures published by National Statistics, in England and Wales the rate of multiple births has escalated enormously over the past 10 years. The National Statistics figures show that of 622,000 births in 1999, 8636 women gave birth to twins, 267 to triplets and four to quadruplets or more. Overall, there were 14.5 multiple births per 1000 births - 27% higher than in 1989. There are various reasons for this escalation which we discuss in the next section, What causes Multiples, including assisted reproduction, older mothers, and more advanced techniques in prenatal care and in the care of pre-term and premature babies.

These figures mean that in England and Wales, in the last two years alone there have been born in the region of 17,000 children who are twins, 800 who are triplets, and at least 17 children who are quadruplets or higher multiples. Indeed Pat Preedy first became involved in multiples when nine sets started in the Infant Department of her school, the sort of experience that does focus the attention of teachers and heads on multiple births!

The diagram below sets out the changes between 1982 and 1998 in England and Wales. To give the figures in a different way, the rate of twins in this period has gone from 1 in 100 to 1 in 72. In this rise is not unique, the 1998 rate for Australia was 1 in 71, almost exactly the same.